Tuesday, January 25, 2022

January 2022 Book Haul

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Shout out to my friends and family because they gave me a ton of awesome books for Christmas. I know Christmas was a month ago, and nobody cares anymore, but I have to show off these books. I'm stoked to read them.

January Book Haul

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Adult Historical Fiction

After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There—after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes—Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.

A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates—and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times—collide.

Why I'm excited to read it: I'm getting vibes of The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, which I loved. Also, Antarctica! And disappearances. And mysteries. It seems like there's a lot going on in this story. No wonder it's 600 pages.

Buy it on Amazon

The Beautiful Poetry Of Donald Trump by Rob Sears

Poetry (?)

What if there's a hidden dimension to Donald Trump; a sensitive, poetic side? Driven by this question, Rob Sears began combing Trump's words for signs of poetry.

What he found was a revelation. By simply taking the 45th President of the United States' tweets and transcripts, cutting them up and reordering them, Sears unearthed a trove of beautiful verse that was just waiting to be discovered.

This groundbreaking collection gives readers a glimpse of Trump's innermost thoughts and feelings on everything from the nature of truth, to what he hates about Lord Sugar. And it will reveal a hitherto hidden Donald, who may surprise and delight both students and critics alike.

Why I'm . . . um . . . going to skim it briefly: This was a Christmas gift from my sister. She knows I'm not a fan of The Former Guy, and she wanted to torment me with his beautiful words. (Remember when he said he had all the best words?) I guess a bored person rearranged all his best words into poetry. Really, really terrible poetry. Ug. Why would someone make this?

Buy it on Amazon

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan

Adult Historical Fiction

Herbert Powyss lives in an estate in the Welsh Marches, with enough time and income to pursue a gentleman's fashionable investigations and experiments in botany. But he longs to make his mark in the field of science—something consequential enough to present to the Royal Society in London. He hits on a radical experiment in isolation: For seven years a subject will inhabit three rooms in the basement of the manor house, fitted out with rugs, books, paintings, and even a chamber organ. Meals will arrive thrice daily via a dumbwaiter. The solitude will be totally unrelieved by any social contact whatsoever; the subject will keep a diary of his daily thoughts and actions. The pay: fifty pounds per annum, for life.

Only one man is desperate to apply for the job: John Warlow, a semi-literate laborer with a wife and six children to provide for. The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included.

Why I'm excited to read it: Seven years of solitude? I don't know if that would be amazing or horrible. I'd probably go insane. This book sounds like it might have a lot to say about society, science, and how humans exploit one another. It should be interesting.

Buy it on Amazon

You by Caroline Kepnes

Adult Thriller

When a beautiful aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

Why I'm excited to read it: I don't normally read thrillers, but I'm obsessed with the TV show. It's funny and murderous. Joe is a disgusting dude who I'd never want to meet in real life, but he's an awesome TV character. I'm interested to see how the book compares to the show.

Buy it on Amazon

Orange World And Other Stories by Karen Russell

Adult Fantasy / Magical Realism Short Stories

Karen Russell's comedic genius and mesmerizing talent for creating outlandish predicaments that uncannily mirror our inner lives is on full display in these eight exuberant, arrestingly vivid, unforgettable stories. In "Bog Girl", a revelatory story about first love, a young man falls in love with a two thousand year old girl that he's extracted from a mass of peat in a Northern European bog. In "The Prospectors," two opportunistic young women fleeing the depression strike out for new territory, and find themselves fighting for their lives. In the brilliant, hilarious title story, a new mother desperate to ensure her infant's safety strikes a diabolical deal, agreeing to breastfeed the devil in exchange for his protection. The landscape in which these stories unfold is a feral, slippery, purgatorial space, bracketed by the void—yet within it Russell captures the exquisite beauty and tenderness of ordinary life.

Why I'm excited to read it: Karen Russell is my favorite short story writer. Her stories are funny, magical, and surprising. They seem lighthearted on the surface, but they always leave you with something to think about.

Buy it on Amazon

The Ambassador Of Nowhere Texas by Kimberly Willis Holt

Middle Grade Contemporary

Decades after the Vietnam War and Toby's life-changing summer with Zachary Beaver, Toby's daughter Rylee is at a crossroads—her best friend Twig has started pushing her away just as Joe, a new kid from New York, settles into their small town of Antler. Rylee befriends Joe and learns that Joe's father was a first responder on 9/11. The two unlikely friends soon embark on a project to find Zachary Beaver and hopefully reconnect him with Rylee's father almost thirty years later.

Why I'm excited to read it: This is a companion novel to When Zachary Beaver Came To Town. I was in love with that book as a young teen. I read it over, and over, and over. It may have sparked my passion for historical fiction and stories set in small towns. Of course I need to read the sequel!

Buy it on Amazon

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Adult Fantasy / Magical Realism Short Stories

In “Who Will Greet You at Home,” a woman desperate for a child weaves one out of hair, with unsettling results. In “Wild,” a disastrous night out shifts a teenager and her Nigerian cousin onto uneasy common ground. In "The Future Looks Good," three generations of women are haunted by the ghosts of war, while in "Light," a father struggles to protect and empower the daughter he loves. And in the title story, in a world ravaged by flood and riven by class, experts have discovered how to "fix the equation of a person"—with rippling, unforeseen repercussions.

Why I'm excited to read it: For some reason, I can't get enough Nigerian fiction. Who taught Nigerian authors how to develop such realistic and compelling characters? Nigeria is also a fascinating setting for fiction. I hope these short stories live up to the awards they've won.

Buy it on Amazon

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Adult Horror / Fantasy

In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan's ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.

Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan's demons straight to Hell. But something awful's brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.

Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?

Why I'm excited to read it: I'm a horror lover, but it's been a while since I read a really good horror book. All scary books are starting to feel the same to me. I was searching the Internet for something unusual, and I kept seeing this book on "Best Horror" lists. It sounds like a cool blend of horror and history. I can't wait to give it a try.

Buy it on Amazon

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Adult Science Fiction

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn't know that. He can't even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he's been asleep for a very, very long time. And he's just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that's been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it's up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

Why I'm excited to read it: Well, my dad liked it. I guess that's a good sign because he hates everything. Also, this book has an insanely high average rating on Goodreads. At the time I'm writing this, the average is 4.53 / 5 stars. I haven't read many books with ratings that high. Goodreads is usually mean to books!

Buy it on Amazon

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Adult Historical Science Fiction

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.

Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

Why I'm excited to read it: The author's other book, All The Light We Cannot See, is one of my all-time-favorite novels. I even taught a college class on it, and I didn't end up hating the book by the end of the class! (Usually, if I teach a book, I never want to look at it again.) I'm interested to see what else the author can do.

Buy it on Amazon

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?


  1. I'm always up for reading about a good book haul! I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Project Hail Mary, I've been on the fence about that one.

  2. I'm still trying to understand why the Trump poetry books exists. LOL

  3. I'm very excited for What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky! Hope that you enjoy reading all of these books :)

    claire @ clairefy

  4. I also have Project Hail Mary on my TBR shelf. It isn't usually my kind of book, but everyone has raved about it and I didn't want to be left out.

  5. Very nice haul, AJ! You has been on my TBR since it released so I look forward to seeing what you think of it. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a book I'll be reading for book club later this year. :)

  6. I have to tell my daughter there is a companion to Zachary Beaver. She loved that book

  7. Wow, you had a great haul for January. I've heard wonderful things about CLOUD CUCKOO LAND. Happy Reading.

  8. The Christmas gift from your sister! 🤣 I can't 😂 At least you got some, um, more interesting sounding books as well. Lol.

  9. LOL YOU RECEIVING THAT DONALD TRUMP BOOK. That's so funny. It remembers me of something I did during Christmas.
    One of my friends hates this Dutch guy on the TV and is always going on about it. Recently I found out he wrote a book so I bought it for him HAHAHAHA. So fun to torment people a bit like that.

  10. Your family have gifted you a wonderful collection of books. I find the idea of Donald Trump's words turned into poetry quite amusing - and what a wonderful gift to give those who hold no love for the orange man.
    I'd buy half those books for the beautiful covers alone.

  11. I actually find the Trump poetry book pretty darn hilarious, and I would totally read it. I assume it was written completely satirically just by the cover alone. I mean, who doesn't need a good laugh now and then?

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  12. I hope you enjoy You! I had the audiobook before the show came out and thought it was unsettling (because he's talking to "you").

  13. Oh I really enjoyed Great Circle! It's a bit slow moving and definitely more of a character study, I'd say, but definitely very epic and long. Really intrigued by The Warlow Experiment and What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, as well! My husband and I have made it through the You TV show and it just feels like a train wreck we can't stop watching sometimes, haha. Which makes for perfect entertainment! Hope you enjoy the book as well, I'm curious about it.

  14. I'd like to try Ring Shout and Project Hail Mary too.
    You was great! Hope you like it.

  15. 'I guess a bored person rearranged all his best words into poetry. Really, really terrible poetry. Ug. Why would someone make this?' - I mean, the money, probably ;) Someone bought it for you, after all! <3